Are you ready to sell and move on?
Selling ones home in today’s market is a stressful process. If you have not been in the real estate market for some time you will discover that selling a home today is very different than it was ten years ago. The Internet has changed everything! So, preparing yourself emotionally is an important first step to getting the house sold!
The most frequent reason people give for moving is that their home is no longer a good fit for the family. The shape and size of families change as time goes by. This can mean that the family size is changing, there’s a new baby on the way and only one bathroom. It can mean the kids have moved out and now there is too much space or perhaps, a life event has necessitated that you change your surroundings
Regardless of the cause, if your home is no longer serving your needs, then its time to consider a home more suitable to your current lifestyle.
Many, especially younger people, are excited to start looking for the next property which they will make their own. They will have an easier time detaching themselves from their present home and doing all they things they will need to do to prepare the house for sale.
For some, especially if they have lived in the home for a long time. detaching themselves emotionally from the home may be difficult. They have a hard time understanding the need to pack away photos and personal items; they may not be able to see what needs to be done or to take advise about what changes are necessary.
Everything may seem difficult until you realize your house is a commodity whose value will be established by the open market. Your memories and treasures will go with you to your next property, which will then become your home.
As you are already aware moving is very stressful and choosing the right Realtor can make a huge difference in reducing your level of stress. Some Realtors who enjoy the challenge, like to become directly involved at the outset and remain involved throughout the process. So from the first contact you will have the benefit of all their experience and expertise guiding you through the process until you are happily settled into your new home.
So choose the most qualified person for the job with whom you will be able to work well.
The ideal person for you is an experienced professional who knows your market, acts in an ethical manner, answers all of your questions, addresses all of your concerns AND most importantly will listen to you and be there for you throughout the process!
How to choose the right Realtor
Select 3 or 4 Realtors that have impressed you as being:
*Knowledgeable about the market and also the many housing options available
*Committed to acting in your best interest
*Full time full service Realtors who can help you through the entire process from listing your house to seeing you settled in your new home.
*Someone who has established a network of other professionals and service providers who do good work and charge a fair price. These affiliates can be of great help to you through the process.
*Your Realtor will be in charge of marketing, advertising, arranging showings, reviewing the legal documents and in general looking out for your best interests.
So interview the selected Realtors and choose someone you trust, who listens to you, and with whom you feel comfortable. Don’t be swayed by personal relationships! Selling your home is strictly business and can sometimes be easier with a stranger.
YOU CANNOT WORK SUCCESSFULLY WITH SOMEONE YOU DON’T LIKE!
While some months are still more popular than others, there is no right or wrong time to sell a property.
For many years conventional wisdom suggested that spring was the best time to sell. Families could sell the home is the spring then move when school was out. Most of the corporate transfers used to take place in the spring. The worst of the winter weather was over and the idea of driving around preferred neighborhoods was more appealing.
That’s all changed thanks to the internet!
Buyers don’t have to take time to drive around; they can just sit down at the computer or mobile tablet and check out what’s for sale in their target neighborhoods. So serious buyers are checking new listings anytime they have a free moment. If the right home comes up, they’re ready to move on it!
Corporate transfers have slowed dramatically and those that occur now do so year round.
Fewer homes on the market usually means less competition therefore quicker sale!
Buyers may be more motivated in winter months as they may have fewer distractions and can be focused on finding the right home!
For most homeowners, spring is still the preferred time to put the house on the market. The days are longer, the weather is getting warmer, the gardens are coming alive and there is that feeling of rejuvenation and growth in the air.
But that also typically means more competition as that is when listing inventory is at its highest!
Price it right from the beginning! Priced correctly, homes are more likely to sell closer to the asking price and faster too! Of all the components of the selling process, nothing is more critical than the initial pricing of the property. Nothing!
Condition is a serious component influencing the house price.
Buyers want the best house in move-in ready condition at the best price. Price is the motivating factor!
A new listing creates an initial spike in interest and showings within the first couple of weeks. This is the “pent up” demand from buyers who have already looked at and rejected your competition. A well priced home forces a serious buyer to ask the question “what will it take for me to get this house”?
Conversely, an over-priced home will sit on the market for weeks or even months pending a price adjustment.
House buyers look for perceived value. Today’s buyers are savvy they work with agents who advise them.
How do we establish Market Value? Market value is defined as the price a willing buyer would pay on the open market.
To determine the fair Market Value of your house, your Realtor will perform a thorough market analysis of comparable properties
So typically Realtors select homes that have sold within the past 3 to 6 months, homes that are in the same neighbourhood, are the same style and offer the same features. Because no two homes are identical, we must make monetary adjustments for the major differences in the homes.
Together these factors create a “Comparative Market Analysis” which in turn determines the fair market value of your home. Your Realtor will prepare a report with a recommended value range for your property and a recommended list price.
He or she will be able to explain to you how he arrived at these recommendations. He will give you copies of the comparable home listings used and discuss the differences from one home to another.
Stack the odds of selling in your favour….. price your home at market value!
Know your competition
Your Realtor, as part of the market analysis for your home, will provide you with details about the other homes on the market that your home would be up against if it was currently on the market. These are the homes buyers would also view and compare. So the more homes you can see in person the more you will understand what needs to be done to get the best price for your house. Attend some open houses in your area and do a real estate reality check! Pay attention to what homes similar to yours are selling for. This will also give you a sense of what your home should sell for in your area.
Then working with your Realtor, you can prioritize the work and get things done.
Beat the competition with condition
In today’s real estate market, Sellers need to stay one step ahead of Buyers. The goal is to have the home in move-in condition and to give potential Buyers the impression that they can just move in and start enjoying their new space.
Aesthetics are important; in real estate, appearances mean a lot!
Your front door is the gateway to the home and the centerpiece to your home’s curb appeal so make sure it is freshly painted in a tasteful colour. Make sure your house number is visible from the road. If you have dark rich paint colours in your home consider repainting in more trendy neutral tones. A fresh coat of paint gives you more bang for your decorating buck than anything else!
Maximize the light in your home!
Have all your windows cleaned inside and out. Sheers can remain (tie back for showings) but take down the drapes. Replace any dated light fixture if possible. Install bright bulbs to make your house bright and cheery. Put up Mirrors. They reflect light and can make small rooms look bigger.
Clean out closets
We can never have too much storage space! Aim to have about 25 percent open space in each closet. More storage space is a priority for all buyers so they will look in your closets and cupboards. Remove half of the clothes or other things in your closets then neatly organize what is left. This is an ideal opportunity to dispose of items you no longer use or clothes you no longer wear.
Consider getting a Home Inspection prior to listing
Ask your Realtor to refer 2 or 3 good Home Inspectors! It is important to know your home’s overall condition. There can be surprises! A reputable Home Inspection Company will provide you with an inspection report, which potential buyers can view during a showing. The summary usually lists any deficiencies the inspector has detailed in the report. If you discover that you need a new roof now or the furnace is on its last legs, you will have an opportunity to address the problem without the stress of potentially loosing a sale when the buyer’s inspector discovers it! Get quotes for what needs to be done and decide how much you are willing to do. The key is to get as many of these repairs done as practical. This can be an attractive selling point as most residential Offers to Purchase have a condition to allow for a home inspection. It also provides a comfort level to the buyer regarding the overall condition of the property prior to submitting an Offer.
Take the Home out of your House! You don’t want prospective buyers focusing on your personal property; you want them focusing on the house.
Put away family photos, all religious articles, personal keepsakes and memorabilia. Potential buyers need to be able to connect with your home and visualize themselves in the space. Many find it difficult to avoid admiring a photo, checking a wall certificate or other personal item when they should be imagining themselves in the home!
It is very important that each room appears as it was intended to be used. It can be a turnoff for a buyer to see the living room being used as a formal dining room, or the third bedroom as a storage room. If you have odd spaces consider giving them a function such as a quiet reading corner!
In today’s real estate market, it is imperative to remove all clutter from the home before listing it. This may include removing some furniture to make rooms look bigger. Consider renting a storage unit! For many people this helps alleviate some of the stress of deciding what to store and what to get rid of. They can postpone that decision until they move. I like to advise sellers to get a head start on packing. The fewer things there are in the home, the larger it will look. Think builder’s “model home”! Some experts recommend that you aim to get rid of a third of your stuff! Its that important! Pack up all your collectibles, anything sitting on a tabletop, counter or other flat surface and put them in storage.
Give away or sell what you no longer want, throw away anything broken or worn out. Things you want to keep but are not currently using can also be packed up and moved into the storage unit. This includes clothing and seasonal items not likely to be needed in the near future. Clean up toys!
Some buyers will have children, others will not so it may be a turn off for them to see toys strewn everywhere. If possible pack up and store some of the toys then organize the rest in cubbies (baskets) or in toy boxes.
Deep Clean Throughout
Get your house sparkling clean! We all get used to how we live in our home. Some lifestyles are very laid back and we get used to how it looks. But, the buyers are seeing it for the first time. The kitchen and bathrooms require special attention but every surface, countertop, floor, light fixture, windows and cupboards should be thoroughly cleaned. Buyers expect to see an immaculate home. Most buyers find a dirty or messy home a huge turnoff! Uncleanliness can cause some buyers to wonder what other maintenance details may be also be lacking. If you have a large house, you may want to consider hiring a professional to help you do some of the heavy cleaning. Potential buyers need to imagine themselves living in your space, your perfectly clean home!
If you have pets, plan to move them, and as much of their stuff as possible, out of the house. A prospective buyer shouldn’t even be aware that a pet lives in the home, if you can help it! Not everyone is a cat or dog lover. Buyers prefer not to enter your home and see a bowl full of dog food, smell the cat’s litter box or end up with cat or dog hair on their clothing. Homes that smell and show evidence of animals can be a turnoff for buyers. Research indicates that one of the biggest factors that impact negatively on a potential buyer is pet smells! So prior to having a public open house, try to arrange for the cat or dog to be elsewhere!
Hire a stager
Please understand the way you live in your home is not how you sell it! The proliferation and popularity of home decorator TV shows and home renovator shows has changed what buyers expect and at the same time raising the bar for sellers wanting to sell their properties. Stagers like to tell us: “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”! Staged homes appeal to more buyers, sell faster and usually for more money.
Buyers expect to see the home staged.
Buyers now shop on the internet. In Canada, it is estimated that over 85% of buyers use <Realtor.ca> to search for their new home. Buyers decide which homes to go and see based on the photos or virtual tour of that home on the internet. Buyers want to see themselves in that home so they will choose to visit homes that are well presented with lots of professional photos.
A consultation with a professional stager will help you maximize the full potential of your home. You can simply request a consultation or you can ask for a proposal with full or partial staging. It will be worth your while in the long run.
The stager will view and analyze each room paying attention to amount and placement of furniture, paint colour, flooring, light fixtures, art and other accessories. He/she will then make a report outlining his/her recommendations for improving your home’s presentation.
Staging your property can make a dramatic difference in how quickly it sells and also the price you can obtain.
STAGE THE EXTERIOR
Curb appeal is huge! It refers to the overall appearance of your home’s exterior including paint, lighting, and landscaping. It’s important to make people feel warm and welcome as they approach your house. A pair of planters flanking the front door and filled with seasonal arrangements instantly conveys pride of ownership.
Keep the lawn neatly cut and trimmed, leaves raked and snow removed from walkways and driveway depending on the season!
Don’t neglect your back yard! In summer, weed and groom the gardens and shrubs and add annuals for colour.
Our back decks and patios are now considered outdoor living spaces; an extension of our living and dining rooms. Buyers like to visualize themselves enjoying the backyard entertaining friends and family!
Your stager may have some ideas to help maximize this space too!
THE RIGHT PRESENTATION
The first impression is the only impression. Plan on having the home in perfect condition for the photo shoot. A buyer’s first impression of your home will most likely be via Realtor.ca or an email from their Realtor. Make them want to step inside! The greatest amount of activity, showings and enquiries occur within the first few weeks of hitting the market! Buyers want the best house in move-in ready condition for the best price. Try to be prepared for numerous showings and some may be on short notice. The more showings your home receives, the more likely you will get an offer. Realtors prefer to give sellers reasonable notice for a showing but its not always possible.
The Right Photography
Most homebuyers start their search online and decide which homes they may want to see based on the photographs and virtual tours. Therefore, once the property is ready for market we want to capture its best features to be published on the internet. So prior to uploading the listing details to MLS, we will arrange to have a professional photographer visit your home to take high definition colour photos, usually 30 still pictures, and a virtual tour. These photos will be uploaded together with the listing details to MLS, Realtor websites and Realtor.ca. so the homebuyers have the full visual effect as soon as the listing hits the system.
These photos will also be used for website advertising, newspaper and magazine advertising and in the preparation of feature sheets and flyers.
Traditionally, Realtors relied heavily on print media to advertise the listed homes for sale. This would have included newspaper ads, glossy magazines, flyers, open house notices and postal walks.
Today we still use some of these same strategies but we now also reap the benefits of online marketing. Consumer habits have changed and now it is estimated that 90% of buyers use the internet to search for property.
So the emphasis is now to maximize on line marketing to promote properties. Digital advertising may also include showcasing your home on Social Media, Google Adwords, and on line shopping sites (eg. Kijiji, Craig’s List).
For Sale Sign
For sale signs are still an excellent source of buyer leads. Sometimes people who are not currently in the market for a house will see the sign and their interest is piqued and they call for a showing. It may be the location, the size, the style, proximity to school or family but whatever the reason, the sign starts the process.
Public Open Houses:
Open houses are a good source of buyer leads. There are two specific reasons why open houses should be considered: it gives the neighbours a chance to see your home. Often they have friends or relatives they would like to have living nearby. For those buyers working with a Realtor who does not qualify prospects, they may never see your property if they don’t find it on their own. Further the on line listings, create an interest in online shoppers to visit your property at an open house without an appointment.
High impact advertising
Prepare advertising that highlights the features of your property and makes the phone ring. Professionally designed full colour feature sheets which are available to prospects and buyers who visit your home.
Your Realtor will contact you to make an appointment for all showings. Following the showing, your Realtor will request feedback from the buyer’s agent and that information will subsequently be conveyed to you.
Access is essential! Homes that don’t get shown don’t get sold! All Realtors prefer to give sellers reasonable notice for a showing but sometimes it’s not possible. So the more flexible you can be about showings the more people will be able to see your home.
It is important for you to leave the house during showing so that prospective buyers can feel comfortable opening cupboards and closets and so they can speak freely with their Realtor regarding the homes features.
The Buyer makes an Offer by submitting a signed written legal proposal to buy your home. A formal document, the Agreement of Purchase and Sale is prepared by the buyers’ agent and will include the price, deposit amount, closing date, chattels to be included, and all the other terms and conditions under which the buyer is prepared to buy your house.
Your Realtor will review the Offer with you explaining the terms and conditions so that you can decide whether or not to accept it.
The Offer may be conditional. Conditions such as: arranging mortgage financing, getting a house inspection, securing property insurance, selling the buyer’s current home are common. A condition is a clause in the Offer allowing the buyer a reasonable period of time to make sure he is cleared to move forward with the house purchase. If a condition cannot be met the Offer can be cancelled.
Once you have reviewed the Offer you now have three options:
It may be that some aspects of the Offer are acceptable and other aspects are not. So you may want to negotiate to achieve a more acceptable Offer.
Essentially you will be making an Offer back to the buyer by changing the aspects you are not prepared to accept. Perhaps the buyer wants an early closing date and you really need another month or she has included your new washer and dryer as chattels included in the Offer. Your Realtor will simply cross out those items in the Offer and have you initial that change. You will then sign the Offer and send it back to the Buyer giving them a period of time to accept. The Buyers can then affix their initials beside yours to indicate that they are in agreement.
After all negotiations are completed and the Agreement is fully executed, your house is SOLD and all parties and their lawyers will receive a copy of the Agreement of Purchase and Sale
Once any conditions have been met, your Realtor can affix a SOLD sign in your property.